Monday, 31 October 2011

Palestine admitted to UNESCO as full member despite US vote against


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The UN's cultural agency voted to admit Palestine as a full member on Monday, weeks before the Security Council is due to report on Palestine's bid for full membership of the United Nations.

Palestine overcame US and Israeli opposition to join the cultural body, with UNESCO saying that 107 member states voted in favor, 14 states voted against, with 52 abstentions.

The resolution needed 81 votes to pass, as abstentions are not counted, UNESCO said.

The United States, Canada, Germany and Holland voted against Palestinian membership. Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favour. Britain and Italy abstained. more

Take Action - Isolation of Ahmad Sa'adat continued in violation of promise to prisoners


Only one week after promising Palestinian political prisoners that isolation would end and that all prisoners in isolation would be returned to the general population, in order to convince those prisoners to end their hunger strike, Israeli authorities have announced their intention to continue the isolation of Ahmad Sa'adat for at least one more year.

As reported by the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, an Israeli court in Bir Saba issued a ruling on October 27, 2011 to extend the isolation of Ahmad Sa'adat for an additional year. Ahmad Sa'adat has already been held in isolation for over two and one-half years. His release from isolation was a key demand of Palestinian prisoners' recent hunger strike - and was promised to them one week ago.

The ruling, which was based on secret evidence like all such rulings, dates back to August 8 but was not released until today; Ahmad Sa'adat was not accompanied by lawyers in the hearing.

The prison administration had promised to end isolation following Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike. This decision is tantamount to torture - and a direct violation of the agreement with Palestinian prisoners to end their hunger strike, which had drawn the eyes of the world to their struggle.

20 Palestinian prisoners remain in isolation, despite the strike's suspension on October 17. Israel had promised that they would be released from isolation immediately following the release of 477 prisoners in a prisoner exchange agreement - however, Israel's prison administration has acted in complete violation of its word.

On October 18, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez called in the UN General Assembly for all use of isolation longer than 15 days to be banned, saying that isolation can cause "severe mental pain or suffering" and "can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pre-trial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period...Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, supermax, the hole, secure housing unit... whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by states as a punishment or extortion technique."

The punishment, isolation and extortion of Ahmad Sa'adat for his ongoing courage and commitment as a leader of Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people must end. International action and solidarity is necessary!

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat reprints the following call received from activists in Palestine:

A Call from Occupied Palestine to the Occupy Movement - From occupied Palestine, from our occupied lands, from our camps of refuge, from the prisons of torture and the prisoners of freedom, from our stolen lands, our chained borders, our demolished homes and our revolution, our commitment, our struggle for freedom:

For us, the word occupation has always stood for colonialism, land theft, genocide, dispossession, and death. It is a word and a concept we have fought to bring to an end for over sixty years. Yet the Occupy movement that has arisen in public squares, in cities and towns around the world, from the centre of imperialism in the US, Wall Street itself, is an occupation that can serve as a source of hope for liberation, for decolonization, for an end to the racist occupation of our homeland.

Seeing the youth of the West in the streets rejecting the brutal consequences of the system of imperialism and capitalism once more, we salute you, we stand with you, and we call: "Occupy Wall Street, Liberate Palestine!"

Our political prisoners stood steadfast through three weeks of hunger strike and have today been confronted by yet one more lie, another broken promise on the heap of lies and broken promises of the occupier - rather than our prisoners being freed from isolation, they are remaining in isolation. Ahmad Sa'adat, Palestinian national leader, having already spent two and a half years in solitary confinement, is slapped with yet one more year.

We call upon you to make it clear that despite solitary confinement, Ahmad Sa'adat and the Palestinian prisoners are not isolated, and are part of a global movement and global solidarity. We call upon you to raise the voices, the pictures, and the stories of Palestinian political prisoners at Occupy Wall Street and all Occupy movement events. We, the Palestinian people are also the 99%, those victimized by war profiteers, by racism, by imperialism, by displacement and genocide. Our thousands of prisoners remain in the prisons of the illegal, illegitimate occupier.

Raise their voices among yours, and stand together for the liberation of Wall Street, Palestine, and all of our oppressed and stolen land and people!

Take Action!
1. Picket, protest or call the Israeli embassy or consulate in your location and demand the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian political prisoners. Make it clear that you expect the demands of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike to be immediately implemented, including an immediate end to the isolation of Ahmad Sa'adat! Send us reports of your protests at Israeli embassies and consulates.

2. Bring the struggle of Palestinian prisoners to Occupy protests, as will happen in New York City on Friday, October 28 (Existence is Resistance Kuffeya Day) and has happened in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Download and distribute the flyer, hold a rally or teach-in and express solidarity.

3. Distribute the free downloadable Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat flyer in your community at local events.

4. Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to exercise their responsibilities and act swiftly to demand that the prisoners' demands are implemented. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at JER_jerusalem@icrc.org, and inform them about the urgent situation of Ahmad Sa'adat. Make it clear that isolation is a human rights violation, a form of torture, and that Palestinian prisoners were coerced into stopping their hunger strike with false promises of the recognition of their rights, and that the ICRC must stand up and play its role to defend prisoners' rights.

5. Email the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat at info@freeahmadsaadat.org with announcements, reports and information about your local events, activities and flyer distributions.

Airstrike kills two Al Ansar Brigades fighters despite ceasefire efforts - 12 dead over three days

(Image By saraya.ps)

Palestinian Medical sources reported that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) bombarded an area in the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing two Palestinian fighters. The latest escalation raises the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza since Saturday to twelve.

The Israeli Army stated that its military jets fired missiles at a group of fighters shortly after they launched shells into the Western Negev, scoring a direct hit. The army added that the fighters fired six mortar-shells into Israel on Sunday, and accused the resistance in Gaza of seeking further escalation and tension.

Medical sources in Gaza confirmed that two fighters from an area in the southern part of the Gaza Strip were killed after being targeted by Israeli missiles.
They were identified them as Yousef Abu Abdo and Ali Al Aqqad; both from Khan Younis.

The Al Ansar Brigades, the armed wing of the Al Ahrar Movement, issued a press release stating that the two slain fighters are members of their group, and vowed retaliation.

The death of the two fighters increases the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli military fire in the Gaza Strip since Saturday to twelve. more

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Israel breaks ceasefire - kills another Palestinian fighter

(Relatives of Islamic Jihad militant Muhammad Ashour mourn during his funeral in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Oct. 30, 2011. - REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A fighter from the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine was killed, and another critically injured, as Israel launched an airstrike on the Gaza Strip hours after a ceasefire truce was agreed upon by Gaza militants.

Medical spokesman in the Gaza Strip Adham Abu Salmiya said that one man was killed in the airstrike on Rafah. The victim was identified as Ahmad Jarkhoun.

Another man was critically wounded and rushed to hospital, he added. more

One Israeli killed as rockets hit Ashkelon while Egypt tries to broker ceasefire


One Israeli man died on Saturday from shrapnel wounds following rocket fire on Ashkelon by Palestinian fighters. Egypt is reported to be trying to organise a ceasefire as panic spread in southern Israel. So far nine Palestinians have been killed by Israel.
Egyptian officials said on Sunday that efforts were still being made to persuade Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip to hold their fire on Israel, after more than two dozen rockets and mortars were launched over the course of the weekend.

The officials denied earlier reports that their efforts to secure an overnight cease-fire had failed. At least 11 rockets were fired at Israel overnight, in addition to the 20 launched on Saturday toward the southern cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gan Yavne, and around Be'er Sheva. more

Saudi prince puts up $900,000 reward for capture of Israeli soldier


RIYADH, (PIC)-- Saudi prince Khaled Al-Saud declared a financial reward of $900,000 for anyone capturing one Israeli soldier in order to swap him with Palestinian prisoners.

The prince told Daleel satellite channel over the phone that his reward was a response to Israeli death threats received by Saudi preacher Awad Al-Qarni who previously announced a $100, 000 reward for the capture of one Israeli soldier.

"Qarni offered 100 thousands dollars for anyone who can capture a soldier and they responded by earmarking one million bounty on his head, but I say to Qarni I am with you and I will pay 900 thousands dollars so that the total can be one million dollars for the capture of one Israeli soldier in order to have Palestinian prisoners freed," the prince stated to the channel.

Prince Khaled is the third son of prince Talal bin-Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the brother of prince Al-Waleed bin-Talal. more

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Second Israeli airstrike sees two more Islamic Jihad fighters killed


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip killed two more fighters from the Islamic Jihad's armed wing on Saturday evening, after earlier airstrikes on the coastal enclave had killed five members from the group.

Medical spokesman in Gaza Adham Abu Salmiya said that two fighters from the al-Quds Brigades were killed in the strike on Rafah, south Gaza. more

Muslim Brotherhood makes first ever visit to Gaza as Egypt relaxes restrictions


GAZA CITY (Reuters) -- Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood visited the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for the first time on Saturday, signaling a shift in Cairo's posture toward the Palestinian Islamists since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

A delegation led by deputy Brotherhood chief Goma Amin met Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh in celebration of a major prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel brokered by Egypt last week.

"We came to participate in the joy at the release of brothers. We are proud of them," Amin told reporters. "Resistance proved itself."

The Brotherhood, a political party which, like Hamas, regards relations with Israel as anathema, had been curbed by the US-aligned Mubarak. He was ousted by a popular revolt in February. more

Islamic Jihad retaliates for deaths with seven rockets fired into Israel, one injured


Seven rockets were fired at southern Israel on Saturday, exploding in Ashdod, Gan Yavne, and west of Be'er Sheva, lightly wounding one man and hitting a residential building in Ashdod.

The rocket barrage followed an IDF strike on the Gaza Strip which resulted in the deaths of five Islamic Jihad militants.

One rocket exploded in Gan Yavne, lightly wounding a 40-year-old man who sustained shrapnel wounds to his legs. Several trauma victims were also reported.

Two rockets exploded in Ashdod, one hitting a school but caused no casualties.

A short time later, a mortar shell landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing no casualties or damage.

After several hours, a fourth rocket exploded in an open area west of Be'er Sheva, and no casualties were reported.

An alarm sounded throughout Ashdod prior to the explosions, just hours after Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed a commander of the Palestinian faction and four of its munitions experts. more

Israeli air strike on Islamic Jihad in Gaza kills five


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli war planes shelled the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing five members of Islamic Jihad's armed wing, and injuring fifteen others.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces fired two shells at a site used by Islamic Jihad's armed wing near Tal al-Sultan, northeast of Rafah city.

Medical official in Gaza Adham Abu Salmiya said five were killed and fifteen injured, four critically, in the strike, and transferred to Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah.

One of the deceased has been identified as Ahmad al-Sheikh Khalil, a prominent leader in the Islamist movement's al-Quds Brigades.

Medics and Islamic Jihad officials identified the other four brigades members killed as Muhammad Ashour, Abdul Karim Shabat, Basem Abol Ata and Muhammad al-Khudari.

Al-Quds brigades said in a statement received by Ma’an that one of their military sites in Rafah was attacked and a number of fighters were killed and injured.

Brigades' spokesman Abu Ahmad said the Israeli strike is one of the most brutal attacks on the Palestinian resistance since April. A spate of rockets and airstrikes on Gaza in April killed at least 18 people before factions agreed a ceasefire. More

UNESCO to vote on Palestine membership on Monday, US threatens to cut funding


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will be holding a vote on Monday on the Palestinian request to become a full member. The move is part of the Palestinian demands of international recognition as a state.


On October 6th, The Executive Council of the UNESCO decided to allow the 193 member states to vote on the Palestinian application.

The decision angered Tel Aviv and the United States, while the White House is threatening to cut its funding to the organization. The U.S. provides %22 of all UNESCO funding. more

Friday, 28 October 2011

Russian aid convoy arrives in Gaza loaded with medical supplies


Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported that a Russian convoy, loaded with medical supplies, arrived in the Gaza Strip, Thursday, via the Rafah Border Terminal, between Gaza and Egypt.

The convoy, the first from Russia, embarked on its journey last Tuesday under the slogan “Russia Stands With You Gaza”. Several Russian reporters accompanied the convoy, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

The convoy was organized by the, Solidarity Association Foundation, an Islamic charitable society in Russia that collected, during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, donations used to buy medical supplies and equipment from Egypt.

The purchased supplies were based on a list of urgently needed medications and supplies provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Head of the Foundation, Lilia Mohammad Yarova, Journalist Maxim Shevchenko and his wife Nadezhda Kifrckova, known for their support to the Palestinian cause, accompanied the convoy among other activists. more

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Alstom loses $10 billion contract in victory for boycott campaign against companies aiding Israel


The BDS National Committee (BNC) has declared a long sought-after victory as Alstom lost the bid for the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project, worth $10 billion US dollars, after pressure from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, including effective campaigning from the newly launched KARAMA, a European campaign to Keep Alstom Rail And Metro Away.

In 2008 the BNC, the largest Palestinian civil society coalition, with partners in Europe and Israel, launched the Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, due to the two companies’ involvement in Israel’s illegal Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR) project, which explicitly aims to “Judaize Jerusalem,” according to official Israeli statements, by cementing Israel’s hold on the illegal colonial settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in and around Jerusalem. Since then, Veolia has lost more than $12B worth of contracts following boycott activism in Sweden, the UK, Ireland and elsewhere. Alstom, too, suffered substantial blows when the Swedish national pension fund AP7 excluded it from its investment portfolio, after having been excluded from the Dutch ASN Bank due to the company’s involvement in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, and has recently announced its intention to withdraw from the project. more

Four airstrikes hit central and southern Gaza, no injuries reported


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli war planes launched four airstrikes in central and southern Gaza early Thursday morning, witnesses and the army said.

No injuries were reported.

Locals told Ma'an that Israeli fighter jets shelled three open areas and a site used by Hamas' armed wing the al-Qassam Brigades in Khan Younis in the south and Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

The Israeli army said its forces targeted "three terror activity sites" in central Gaza and a weapons storage facility in the southern Gaza Strip.

"Direct hits were confirmed," the military said in a statement.

The army said the strikes were in response to a grad rocket which landed near the city of Ashdod in southern Israel on Wednesday. An Israeli military spokeswoman said Wednesday that the rocket had caused no injury or damage. more

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Demolitions on rise in Jerusalem with 95% of Palestinian building applications refused


Israel is continuing with its policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem on the pretext that the properties do not have official permits. In at least one case, the home owner was forced to demolish his home himself; failure to do so would have landed the man with demolition by the authorities and a heavy fine. A staggering 95 percent of building permit applications submitted by Palestinians are refused by the Israeli authorities.

Jerusalem resident Ahmed Abdul Rahim Al-Bilbeisi told Quds Press that staff from the Israeli occupation municipality handed him an order to stop working on his house which, it was claimed, is built on "unauthorized" ground. The local court then issued an order to demolish the house located in Yakoute El-Hamawi Street, in the Gouze Valley. Mr Al-Bilbeisi said that he had to demolish his house with his own hands in order to avoid a fine of 50,000 shekels (around £8,500) which the court said it would impose if he didn’t abide by the demolition order. In addition, he would have had to pay for the authorities to demolish his home. He was given until the 25th October to fulfil the court order.

According to Al-Bilbeisi, he built his house in 2008 for $25,000 even though the Israelis refused his application for a building permit simply because his old home was too small for his growing family. more

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Saudi aid convoy on schedule to enter Gaza this week with 175 tons of rice


The Saudi Campaign of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for the Relief of the Palestinian People of Gaza is sending 175 tons of rice to Gaza this week, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The shipment is the third installment of a major donation of food dispatched under the direction of Saudi Prince Nayef, the supervisor of the Saudi committee for the support of the Palestinian people, said the statement.

It added that the shipment is being arranged jointly by the Jordanian Royal Hashemite Organization (JHCO) and UNRWA.

A send-off ceremony was held at the warehouses of the JHCO to mark the departure of the food convoy, attended by Executive Director of the Saudi Committee, Mubarak Al Bakr; Representative of the Saudi Embassy in Amman, Abdel-Rahman bin Saleh Al-Subyani; Secretary General of the JHCO, Ahmad Mohammad Al-Imyan, and the Representative of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Peter Ford. more

Another Gazan dies in tunnel collapse on Rafah-Egypt border


Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph)-One Palestinian citizen was killed yesterday during his work in a tunnel collapse beneath the Rafah-Egypt border.

According to local sources, the victim identified as Ahmed Irbai, 29, died when a smuggling tunnel collapsed on him.

Medical teams evacuated the man to Abu Yousef al-Najjar but he was already dead. more

Monday, 24 October 2011

Gaza child artist responds to the censoring of his work by US gallery


From The Electronic Intifada

Following last month’s decision by the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland, California, to shut down an art exhibition of drawings by Palestinian children in Gaza, one of the child artists included in the exhibit has illustrated his response to being censored.

The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) has posted this new drawing by 12-year-old Ali Hassan al Baba of Deir el Balah in the Gaza Strip, as well as a short interview with him:

Translated from Arabic in Ali’s picture: “The Exhibit is Closed” written across top. “It’s my right to draw” in child’s speech bubble.

What is your name?

Ali Hassan Al-Baba

How old are you?
12 years old

Where do you live?
Deir El-Balah, Gaza

How many siblings do you have?
Four sisters and three brothers

Please tell us about your drawing:
I’ve drawn the gallery featuring Palestinian children’s artwork. The art shows the bad things that Zionists do to Palestinians, but then the Zionists came and shut it down.

Please tell us about your family:
I am the oldest child of a simple family. My father works and is our only source of financial support. Our home was hit by an air strike but it is now patched up with metallic plates (zingo). It is a small house and the number of my family is big, but I thank God for everything we have.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be an engineer so I can rebuild every house that Israel has destroyed.

Even though the original exhibition was shut down — following sustained intimidation from local and national pro-Israel lobby groups — Ali’s artwork, and the artwork of the other children, has found a new home in a gallery space around the corner from MOCHA in downtown Oakland. The exhibit will be open until the end of November, and MECA has all the information on its website. EI

Kerem Shalom crossing reopened after week-long closure by Israel


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities reopened Gaza's sole goods crossing on Sunday following a week-long closure as Israel used the Kerem Shalom terminal for a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas.

Palestinian Authority crossings official Raed Fattouh said Israeli officials cleared between 260 and 270 trucks to cross into Gaza from Israel through the southern crossing on Sunday, after the prisoner swap and a Jewish holiday had caused its closure a week prior.

Fourteen trucks of cement and steel, and 44 trucks of gravel for UN projects will pass, in addition to a truck carrying wooden pillars for Gaza's energy authority, Fattouh said. more

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Palestinian reconciliation moves closer to implementation - Egypt makes it top priority

(President Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Egypt for talks with Field Marshal
Mohamed Tantawi, head of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed
Forces, in Cairo on Oct. 22, 2011. - Reuters/Khaled El Fiqi/Pool
)

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Othman said Sunday that reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is a top priority for the Egyptian leadership.

President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Egypt on Friday to discuss implementation of the deal reached on May 4 and brokered by Egypt, but which has yet to be carried out.

The Egyptian leadership is willing to focus its efforts on carrying out the reconciliation deal, Othman said, noting that the leadership places great importance on its implementation.

In addition to the issue of political unity, President Abbas was in Egypt to discuss the latest developments on the UN bid, including how to garner more Arab support for the move, Othman told Ma'an. more

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Peaceful Bil'in anti-Wall demo sees dozens treated after tear gas attack, one detained

(Image By Rani Burnat - bilin-ffj.org)

Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and settlements, in Bil'in village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped one resident; dozens were treated for the effects of teargas inhalation.

The Popular Committee Against the Wall, in Bil'in, reported that soldiers kidnapped Ashraf Ibrahim Abu Rahma, 30.

The Committee added that the protest was attended by dozens of locals, along with Israeli and international peace activists.

The protest started after local residents conducted Friday prayers at the village's mosque, then headed towards Palestinian orchards that the residents managed to liberate after a lengthy legal battle at the Israeli High Court that eventually ordered the army to reroute a section of the wall.

The protesters carried Palestinian and Libyan flags, pictures of Palestinian detainees imprisoned by Israel, and chanted against the occupation and the illegal Annexation Wall.

Upon arriving to the Abu Lemon Natural reserve, soldiers, stationed on the other side of the Annexation Wall started firing dozens of gas-bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets; dozens of protesters were treated for the effects of tear-gas-inhalation.

“The soldiers then pursued the demonstrators through the olive orchards, and kidnapped Bil'in citizen Ashraf Abu Rahma who was standing peacefully with his flag”, the committee said.

Gas bombs fired by the army also caused fire to a number of olive and oak trees. more

Egypt lobbying European countries to open communications with Hamas

(Fatah supporters take part in a rally in the West Bank city of Nablus as unity talks with Hamas take place in Cairo on Feb. 25, 2009 - MaanImages/Rami Swidan)

CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egypt is working to establish communications between Hamas and European nations in the wake of their brokering of a prisoner swap deal between the Gaza rulers and Israel, Egyptian daily Al-Mesryoon said Thursday.

Officials hope to build on European contacts with Hamas during the swap negotiations, including by German and French mediators, to convince European states to deal with the faction governing Gaza, the report said. more

Friday, 21 October 2011

Video: schoolchildren and teachers protest against Hebron checkpoint, IDF attacks with tear gas


Thanks to the International Solidarity Movement

On the 4th day of demonstrations outside of a checkpoint in Hebron, on October 16 2011, IDF soldiers shot tear gas and projected ‘The Scream’ at a group of young schoolchildren and female teachers, who were attempting to hold a lesson outside of the checkpoint as an act of protest.

Since Tuesday, October 11, the group of children and teachers have been gathering outside of Checkpoint 56 in Hebron, which blocks off the Israeli settlement from the rest of the city, to protest increased security measures at the checkpoint. For the past seven years, teachers at the Qurtuba School have been allowed to bypass the usual metal detectors and cross the checkpoint through a separate gate in order to reach their school, which lies in the treacherous area beyond the checkpoint, in between the aggressive Israeli settlements of Tel Rumeida and Admot Yishai. For no apparent reason, the army announced that it had suspended this allowance on Tuesday, and that it would now force the teachers to pass through the metal detectors and present their bags for inspection every day. At the same time, the army announced that pregnant women and people with heart devices or other medical complications, though they likewise had previously been allowed to bypass the metal detectors, can no longer do so, and must now put their physical well-being at risk on a daily basis. more

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in occupied Palestine (13–19 Oct 2011)


(pic: A Palestinian woman checks an olive farm that was destroyed by Israeli settlers in Qasra village near Nablus -pchr)

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

IOF continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
Dozens of Palestinian civilians and international human rights defenders suffered from tear gas inhalation.
6 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, sustained bruises in Hebron.

IOF conducted 47 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
IOF arrested 12 Palestinians, including two children.

Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
Israeli soldiers arrested 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, at various checkpoints in the West Bank.

Israel has continued measures aimed at creating a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem.
The Israeli government plans to establish a new settlement neighborhood between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and 950 dunums[1] of Palestinian land will be confiscated for this purpose.

IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
IOF razed 30 dunums of agricultural land to the east of Salfit.
Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian civilians and property in Hebron.
Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers while cropping olives in the West Bank. more

Thursday, 20 October 2011

PFLP leader Ahmad Sa'adat suspends hunger strike for three days


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has suspended his hunger strike for three days amid consultations with leaders of the campaign.

Ahmad Saadat was informed of the decision in his prison hospital in Ramle jail, an Addameer society attorney said.

The attorney met with Saadat in Ramle along with a doctor from the International Committee of the Red Cross, who visited the hospital and described the PFLP leader's condition as stable.

Fares Qaddura, head of the Palestinian prisoners society, had said Tuesday that Saadat lost 10 kilos as his hunger strike entered its 23rd day. Prisoners started their strike on Sept. 27 to protest ill treatment.

Prisoners in Israel’s Ohalei Kedar jail, meanwhile, have agreed to suspend their hunger strike for three days after Israel stopped using isolation as a policy, representatives of the detainees said Tuesday. more

A call from Palestinian civil society to European universities, academics, students and people of conscience


The State of Israel practices a system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people, but it does not do so unaided. Israeli military companies are the main enablers of Israel’s persistent and grave violations of international law. They provide the weaponry and technology that allow Israel to commit atrocities and daily violations of human rights, and they directly participate in the construction of Israel’s Apartheid Wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice on 9 July 2004.[1] Israeli universities and research institutes are deeply involved in military research and weapons development projects that put them at the heart of planning and implementing Israeli war crimes.[2]

Palestinian academics, students and civil society organisations therefore deplore the extensive research collaboration that takes place between European universities and Israeli military companies, universities and research institutes that are complicit with Israeli violations of international law and human rights. We call for an immediate end to all research collaboration with Israeli military companies and all Israeli research institutions that are involved in violating international law and human rights.

The research collaboration that is facilitated by the EU-Israel Association Agreement is of particular concern. The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) is a multi-billion euro European Union research funding scheme that provides funds for universities and companies from different countries to work together on specific research projects. As a result of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and despite Israel’s consistent violation of the Agreement’s human rights clause, Israeli military companies and research institutions are granted access to FP7 on an equal footing as those from EU member states.[3]

Israeli military companies such as Elbit Systems and Israeli Aerospace Industries, both of which contribute to the ongoing construction of Israel’s illegal Apartheid Wall and both of which supplied drones that were deployed by Israel to kill civilians during Operation Cast Lead, receive public funding from the EU and collaborate with European universities through their participation in FP7 projects.[4] Deeply complicit Israeli academic institutions such as Technion, notorious for its role in developing weapons used in Israeli massacres of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, participate in ‘security’ projects that could clearly assist them in the development of technologies and knowledge used to oppress Palestinian rights.[5] Even Ahava, the Israeli cosmetics company that has been subjected to a highly effective international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign focused on its location in and partial ownership by the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, participates in FP7 projects, granting it access to public funds and partnering it with universities in the UK, Italy, the Basque and beyond.[6] Such involvement of so deeply complicit companies and universities clearly violates the European Union’s own guidelines for participation in FP7 projects.

European universities and research institutions that conduct joint research with Israeli military companies or other organisations that assist the suppression of Palestinian rights provide the material and political support that enable and embolden Israel to continue infringing upon international law with impunity. Not only does such joint research provide a false veneer of normalcy to institutions at the heart of Israel’s colonial system, but it is also likely to directly build on and further support the development of technology and techniques used to violently suppress Palestinian human rights. Far from existing in an “apolitical” bubble, joint research of this kind directly contributes to the injustices and violations of international law and basic rights faced by Palestinians. It makes these European universities and research centers directly complicit in violating international law and human rights.

The nature of Israeli participation in FP7 projects provides further proof of the need for the EU to cancel the EU-Israel Association Agreement and impose a comprehensive military embargo on Israel and for European universities and research institutions to:

1. Immediately end all research collaboration with Israeli military companies and all Israeli research institutions that are involved in violating international law and human rights

2. Develop policies and mechanisms to ensure no further such collaboration can take place and ensure their effective implementation

We call on academics and students and their union organisations, human rights and solidarity organisations and people of conscience across Europe to:

1. Work with the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian civil society coalition, to identify and expose research collaboration between European universities and Israeli military companies and all Israeli research institutions that develop expertise and technology used to suppress Palestinian rights or are otherwise complicit with Israeli violations of international law, particularly where this collaboration taking place within the FP7 scheme[7]

2. Develop long-term, effective mass campaigns capable of successfully pressuring European universities and research institutions to end their complicity with Israeli Apartheid and implement policies to prevent further such collaboration

Signed by:

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)*
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign – Stop the Wall (STW)
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)


*The BNC is a wide coalition of the largest mass civil society organizations, unions,
networks and political parties.

To learn more about this campaign and for assistance with investigating the collaboration with complicit Israeli organisations taking place at your university, please contact info@bdsmovement.net


[1] http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/military-embargo-working-paper-7517
[2] http://www.bdsmovement.net/2009/academic-boycott-aic-5181
[3]According to research published in November 2010, no non-EU country has received more funding per capita than Israel and Israel is especially overrepresented in the security theme of the research program. http://www.statewatch.org/news/2010/nov/russell-tribunal–on-palestine-ben-hayes.pdf
[4] www.bdsmovement.net/2011/stw-european-funding-7939
[5] www.bdsmovement.net/2011/stw-european-funding-7939
http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/mcgill-concordia-technion-7102
[6] For details about Ahava and the campaign against it see http://www.stolenbeauty.org
For information about the FP7 projects in which Ahava is involved see http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=FP7_PROJ_EN&QZ_WEBSRCH=ahava&QM_PJA=&USR_SORT=EN_QVD+CHAR+DESC
[7] The European Union maintains a database of all FP7 projects at http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/projects_en.html

Attachments

1. Palestinian-civil-society-dont-collaborate191011 (138 KiB)

Second phase of prisoner release will number 550 and include the old and sick


Abu Obaida (pictured above), spokesperson of the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, stated that the second phase of the prisoner-swap deal will include the release of security detainees who are old, and sick, in addition to several detainees sentenced to 20 years of more.

“Besides releasing ailing detainees, the priority will be given to those who spent 20 years or more in Israeli prisons”, Abu Obaida said.

The second phase of the prisoner-swap deal would include the release of 550 detainees."

“The nine remaining female detainees held by Israel would be release in the coming days”, the Al Qassam spokesperson added.

Israel released 27 female detainees despite the fact that during indirect talks with Israel, Hamas insisted that all female detainees must be freed. This mix-up left nine female detainees behind bars.

Abu Obaida further stated that Egypt, as a mediator and sponsor of the deal, vowed to ensure that Israel fully implements the second half of the deal, and added that he believes Israel will fulfill its part of the deal in order to prevent retaliation from the Resistance.

The Al Qassam spokesperson said that the Hamas movement will not have any role in determining the names of the detainees, yet, Egypt will be part of the process to ensure all segments of the deal are implemented as they are.

Furthermore, Palestinian Minister of Detainees in Gaza, Saleh Al Aroury, stated that the remaining 9 detainees will be released within days, and not when the second phase is implemented. more

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Thirsting for Justice - European campaign to protect Palestinian water rights appeal for support


(pic: Maram O. Owda is a student in business administration in Al Azhar University in the Gaza Strip. She is also one of several ambassadors for the campaign)

About the campaign
Welcome to the Thirsting for Justice campaign! Launched in May 2011, the aim of the campaign is to mobilise European citizens to demand that their governments pressure Israel to change its policies and practices in order to comply with international law and respect Palestinians’ human rights.

The main objectives are:
- To ensure that Israel respects Palestinians' rights to water and sanitation.
- That Palestinians be allowed to develop infrastructure
- Greater accountability for violations of international law

To learn more about the campaign and its objectives, please visit our website.
Take action

Interested in joining the campaign? Here are several ways to support it:

- On Facebook: donate your status for one hour, by pasting the following message: "Palestinians are Thirsting for Justice!" In addition, you can "Like" our Facebook page and write a message of support on the wall.

- On Twitter: you can follow us and join our Twitter appeal by tweeting the following messages:

EU (@eu_eeas) must do more to stop Israeli violations. Palestinians are @thirsty4justice #T4J #Palestine

European Union (@eu_eeas) speak out against Israel´s discriminative policies on water in the oPt! @thirstyforjustice #T4J #Palestine

Ashton (@eu_eeas), water is a basic right, but not for everyone. Support Palestinian right to water @thirstyforjustice #T4J #Palestine

Ashton (@eu_eeas), water cannot be held hostage to the political process. Palestinians are @thirstyforjustice #T4J #Palestine

- Join the photo petition: take a picture of yourself holding a banner with the words "Thirsting for Justice" and send it to us, with your name and city, at info@thirstingforjustice.org. We will publish it on the website and Facebook, and on posters and postcards.

- Sign our petition directed at Catherine Ashton, the European Union´s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

- Become an ambassador and organize activities in your community to raise awareness, link with other ambassadors around the world, and mobilize your school or community to lobby elected officials.

- Or, simply spread the word!

Become a T4J ambassador!

Maram O. Owda (pictured above) is a student in business administration in Al Azhar University in the Gaza Strip. She is also one of several ambassadors for the campaign.

"I joined the campaign because our rights to water and sanitation are violated and neglected. Water [in the Gaza Strip] is not safe for human consumption and the sanitation services are not adequate," says Maram.

Since becoming an ambassador, Maram has talked about the campaign to her friends and classmates and encouraged them to join it. Along with other ambassadors, she has also participated in the production of a documentary on the sanitation crisis in Gaza. She is currently taking a training course on advocacy and leadership in order to better advocate for these fundamental rights and inform the public of the gravity of the crisis in Gaza.

Thirsting for Justice is backed by The Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group (EWASH) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, a coalition of 30 leading humanitarian organizations is launching, through its Advocacy Task Force (ATF), the Thirsting for Justice Campaign[i] to mobilise European citizens to demand that their governments pressure Israel to change its behavior in order to comply with international law and respect Palestinians’ human rights.

Viva Palestina convoy to purchase vehicles and aid in Egypt for Gaza mission - register now


The Viva Palestina will not be travelling overland from London and elsewhere to Gaza but will instead be purchasing vehicles and aid in Egypt and travelling from there. Latest details are here
REGISTER NOW FOR VIVA PALESTINA 6 - THE RETURN CONVOY

Almost three years after the Israeli Operation Cast Lead killed over 1,400 Palestinians, the situation for most Gazans remains dire, with unemployment, shortages of medical supplies and much else essential to secure minimum living standards.

The sixth aid convoy organised by Viva Palestina is aiming to enter Gaza in time to commemorate the onslaught on the people of Gaza represented by Operation Cast Lead.

It is our intention with this convoy to try to increase the aid element and we also want to reduce the total time those on the convoy will need to take off work whilst increasing the time they can spend in Gaza. We are also taking into account the fluid situation that has developed since the start of Arab Spring and the fall of Mubarak.

We are announcing therefore a significant change in the form that the convoy will take this time. Rather than travelling from London through Europe as before, we intend to purchase all aid and vehicles in Egypt itself, with the convoyers travelling to Egypt either by boat from another Middle Eastern country or flying directly into Cairo itself.

We are currently in discussions with the Egyptian authorities and our friends in both Egypt and Gaza on the exact timing of our arrival in Egypt and Gaza but we are confident this will be over the Xmas period. We will confirm arrangements in the next couple of weeks.

Click here to donate to the VP6 convoy

Click here to register for VP6 now


The Viva Palestina UK team

Video: Victory rally of 200,000 in Gaza welcomes home Palestinian freedom fighters

Qassam Brigades contrast torture of Palestinians with humane treatment of Shalit, vows fight continues


GAZA, (PIC)-- The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said that it will not rest until occupation jails are closed behind the last Palestinian captive.

In a statement by its spokesman, Abu Obaida, on Tuesday after the completion of the first stage of the prisoner exchange deal: "One chapter of this epic [fight for freedom] which we pledged we would complete. There are however other chapters which we intend to complete."

“Our heroic negotiators spent strenuous efforts, but the complications that accompanied these negotiations from the start meant that some captives who spent long years in occupation jails were left behind in the cells of the Zionist executioner."

The Brigades said in a strong message the Israeli people that their government has burdened them when it decided to refuse to release some captives who spent long years behind bars and are suffering various illnesses as a result.

The Brigades said that the capture of the soldier which was dubbed (the dissipated illusion) has resulted in removing the illusions of the enemy and those in its orbit. Then this battle was followed by a five-year long security battle to keep the captive safe.

The Brigades added that despite the fact that we treated the Israeli captive well, in accordance with the teachings of our religion, the Israeli occupation tortured and abused Palestinian captives and dealt with them in a vindictive manner and with the blessing of some countries that call themselves civilised. more

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Haniyeh addresses rally of tens of thousands as he welcomes home resistance fighters


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian leader in Gaza praised the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners as a "historic moment," in an address late Tuesday to thousands of supporters.

Ismail Haniyeh said the resistance refused to back down on two demands - to include leaders of all factions, and to include Palestinians from "the whole of Palestine," not just the West Bank and Gaza.

The deal included Christians, women and 320 detainees with life terms, he said.

"We kiss the hands and foreheads of the Palestinian resistance" for their heroic role, he said, adding that the Islamic world and free people everywhere shared in the joy Palestinians were feeling.

Haniyeh thanked Egypt for its role and said more detainees "will be released soon."

He spoke to a densely-packed sprawl of low-rise concrete on the Mediterranean coast in sight of Israel, as tens of thousands rallied before a stage decorated by a mural bearing portraits of top militants who were not released.

"We will not forget you," said the slogan. more

First buses with released Palestinian freedom fighters arrive in Gaza and West Bank



RAFAH (AFP) -- The first Palestinian prisoners freed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a landmark deal for the return of a captured Israeli soldier arrived home on Tuesday, an AFP reporter said.

Israel freed 477 Palestinian prisoners, most of them to the Gaza Strip, where Hamas leaders greeted former prisoners piling off buses bearing Red Cross insignia.

Three cars belonging to the ruling Hamas movement followed by a Red Cross vehicle accompanied a convoy of eight buses carrying the prisoners to their waiting relatives in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

Buses carrying the first Palestinian prisoners to be freed in the West Bank headed towards the city of Ramallah on Tuesday, an AFP reporter said.

A convoy of several buses was heading to the seat of the Palestinian presidency, the Muqataa, in Ramallah, where the detainees were expected to be greeted by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Gaza's Hamas government had earlier released captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who in an interview shortly after said he hoped the prisoner exchange could lead to peace between both sides.

Crowds gathered in both Gaza and the West Bank awaiting the return of their prisoners.

"This is the greatest joy for the Palestinian people," said Azzia al-Qawasmeh, awaiting at a West Bank checkpoint for her son Amer, who she said had been in prison for 24 years. more

Hamas leader Zahar: “Swap-deal Includes Lifting The Siege On Gaza”


Hamas political leader, Mahmoud Zahhar, told Israeli daily, Haaretz, that the prisoner-swap deal reached indirectly reached between Hamas and Israel includes lifting the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.

Zahhar added that this issue was agreed upon when the German mediator started his role in the swap talks. “This is still valid under the current agreement”, he said.

The Hamas leader further stated that the deal to release prisoner-of-war Gilad Shalit, in return for releasing more than a thousand Palestinian detainees, also includes a section obliging Israel to improve the living conditions of the Palestinian detainees, adding that Gaza Strip families of the detainees will be allow to visit their beloved one.

After Shalit was captured on June 26, 2006, Israel canceled all visitation rights to Gaza Strip families of political prisoners.

Zahhar also said that Israel will also have to ease the restrictions on border terminals leading to Gaza, including travel from Gaza to the West Bank via Israel. more

Monday, 17 October 2011

Israel meets hunger strikers demands by agreeing to end solitary confinement of prisoners


RAMALLAH, October 17, 2011 (WAFA) – Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on hunger strike for three weeks Monday suspended their strike after reaching an agreement with the prison administration to end the solitary confinement punishment, according to Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqi.

He said the Israeli prison administration agreed to the prisoners’ demands and will end the solitary confinement, which was the reason the prisoners have went on hunger strike on September 27, immediately after the release of the 1027 prisoners planned for Tuesday. more

Women's growing role in the Gaza economy fails to overcome entrenched inequalities


RAMALLAH, October 17, 2011 (WAFA) – A UN Women report discussed the varying coping strategies Gaza women have employed to compensate for their household’s income collapse under the combined impact of Israeli siege, internal political strife, military destruction and ongoing economic blockade, authors of the report said on Monday.

Launched in Ramallah on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the report, “Who Answers to Gazan Women?”, focuses on women in the three main areas of economic activity in which they are predominantly engaged -- public sector employment, agriculture and self-employment in the informal sector.

It shows how crucial their economic contributions are in maintaining Gazan households’ survival.

The report is the first UN Women research in the occupied Palestinian Territory looking at Gaza Women’s economic survival strategies on behalf of their households in the context of Gaza’s protracted crisis.

The research highlights that, despite the critical and growing role of Gaza women in securing their households’ income over a decade of crisis, they still benefit from limited economic rights. Access to and control over assets remains a major constraint to Gaza women’s empowerment.

As the research indicates, although they have full legal rights to own and accrue property and personal savings, women in the Gaza Strip have faced longstanding disadvantages in actualizing these rights.

“It is critical that interventions address Gazan women's continued lack of access to and control over assets if the expanded economic roles women have undertaken in response to the protracted crisis are to be translated into meaningful and sustained economic empowerment”, emphasized Rema Hammami, professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at the Birzeit University in the West Bank and main contributor to the UN Women research.

The research, while reaffirming that women have actively sought out and taken advantage of resources and services provided through humanitarian interventions in the Gaza Strip, also shows that the nature of the interventions themselves largely contributed to reinforce normative gender inequalities rather than supporting the process of change due to women’s economic survival strategies. more

PFLP warns Israel of retaliation if condition of its imprisoned leader on hunger strike deteriorates

(Palestinians participate in a protest in support of Ahmed Saadat, jailed leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in the West Bank city of Nablus, on December 25, 2008. - MaanImages/Rami Swidan)

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- PFLP central committee member Jamil Mizhir warned on Monday that the movement will take action against Israel if the health of their imprisoned leader deteriorates.

Ahmad Saadat is on hunger strike as part of a mass prisoner protest against worsening Israeli prison policies launched on Sept. 27. The Popular Front leader had been held in solitary confinement for three years.

Mizhir said in a statement that the group blamed Israel for his health condition, after receiving reports that Saadat had been transferred to hospital.

"If Saadat's condition is at risk, the PFLP response will be very harsh," Mizhir warned.

The PFLP official said the deal agreed last week for the release of over 1,000 prisoners in exchange for captured soldier Gilad Shalit will push the movement to continue resistance to eventually free all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jail. more

Hamas leaders in Cairo to meet 40 released prisoners to be exiled as part of swap deal

(Image By Arabs48)

Vice president of the Political Bureau of the Hamas movement in Gaza, Mousa Abu Marzouq, will be heading to Cairo Monday as part of a Hamas delegation to welcome 40 detainees who will be forced into exile as part of the prisoner-swap deal. Khaled Mashal, head of the Hamas Political Bureau in Syria, will be heading the delegation.

Hamas sources reported that Qatar and Turkey will be hosting the exiled detainees, while Syria also expressed willingness to host some of them, the Al Hayat Arabic paper in London reported.

Contrary to initial reports by Hamas officials and media agencies, not all female detainees will be released from Israeli prisons.

Abu Marzouq commented on the issue stating that the mediated swap-deal signed with Israel states that all female detainees will be released, while Israel interpreted the issue in a different way; all female detainees will be released, except those arrested and imprisoned by Israel after the prisoner-swap talks stated. This left behind nine female detainees. more

Video: what do ordinary Gazans think about the prisoner exchange deal?


The prisoner swap is sure to improve Hamas's standing among Palestinians, but the people of Gaza have suffered greatly for the capture of Shalit.

So what ordinary Gazans think of the deal?

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Gaza wife to welcome home husband she hardly knows after his 24 years in prison


From the Los Angeles Times

REPORTING FROM SHIJAEYA, GAZA STRIP — She was still practically a newlywed when Raeda Omjamal watched Israeli security forces arrest her husband, Rawhi Mushtaha, and sentence him to 124 years in prison.

Israel called him a murderer for his role in helping to run Hamas' military operations. In Gaza, he was hailed as a freedom fighter and hero. Mushtaha is expected to be among the 1,027 Palestinian prisoners who will be released Tuesday in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Omjamal was 23 years old, a freshly transplanted Palestinian refugee from Jordan who only met her husband two months before their wedding. They had another six months after the marriage.

Now, at 47, Omjamal is preparing to welcome her husband back home after seeing him only once during 24 years of incarceration. Though they exchanged occasional messages and letters through attorneys, personal visits were mostly prohibited.

Today, the young, bearded fighter she married in 1988 is a gray-haired, wrinkled stranger. Asked how it will feel to live in the same house again, she laughed and turned red, noticeable even though a pale green veil covering most of her face.

"I don't know," she said. "It's awkward. On the one hand, I'm filled with joy, but there's also anxiety and worry. I've been waiting for him now longer than I lived at home with my family."

Four months after he was imprisoned, Mushtaha sent word to his wife that she should divorce him and move on with her life. She refused.

"I decided to stay because I thought that was my destiny,'' she said. more

Dodging bullets is all in a day's work bringing in the Gaza olive harvest


From the International Solidarity Movement

Gaza doesn’t have very much farmland left. The expanding no go zone imposed by Israeli bullets and bulldozers constantly erode the amount of land left for Palestinians to farm in Gaza. Mohamed Ashure Shimbari lives on the edge of the no-go zone. If you look east from his land you see the no go zone, what Israel euphemistically refers to as “the buffer zone.” Little grows there. Israeli bulldozers regularly come to kill anything which has managed to find a life there. You can see the destroyed well which once provided water for the orchards that used to cover the no-go zone. Now, there is no water, and no life, only a zone of death. Israel claims that the buffer zone is “only” 300 meters wide, but Mohamed’s land is about 800 meters from the border, and still he is afraid.

The Israelis often shoot into this area, especially at night.

The olive harvest has begun in Gaza. The Beit Hanoun Local Initiative and the International Solidarity Movement went to Mohamed’s land to help him harvest his olives today. The trees are pregnant with fruit, green and black olives line the branches. Mohamed’s family depends on these olives to live.

We join Mohamed and his sons in the morning, the weather is beautiful and the trees are picturesque. We spread plastic under the trees and begin to pick. Thankfully, it is quiet. The Israeli’s are not shooting today. We work quickly, stripping the branches of olives, climbing up on ladders or into the branches of the trees to get at the higher olives. Unreachable olives are smacked with a stick to knock them off the tree. Any olives that fail to fall onto the plastic sheeting are carefully picked up; these olives are too precious to waste. The olives are transferred into bushel sacks. Tomorrow, they will be processed, either cured for eating or crushed for oil.

As the sun climbs higher into the sky and the work becomes hotter we break for tea. We decide to walk over and visit Mohamed’s neighbors, a Bedouin family. We meet their young son Abed who has just come home from school. He walks five kilometers to school every morning, and he walks home at night, he does this with his sister and his brother. Abed is 10 years old. He is a shy kid; he wants to be a dentist when he grows up. He doesn’t seem to think that peace will ever come to his family, that they will ever live a life without worrying about the shooting from the Israeli’s at night. He lives a life of three directions, north, south, and west. There is no east really, you can’t walk that way, you would be killed. His family is forced to truck water from Beit Hanoun, the well that they used to depend on for water has been destroyed by the Israeli’s. His mother comes out; she tells us that she prays for peace, for a life with water and without fear of the bullets.

We return to work the olives. Tree by tree, up and down the rows, we move gathering olives. Mohamed tells us about his life. When the Israeli’s invade Gaza his home is one of the first places they came to. Not because they are afraid that he has guns, but because they want to use his house. He and his family are locked in one room while the soldiers use his house as a base for their attacks on Beit Hanoun. During Cast Lead his family was locked in the room for 23 days while the IDF carried out their slaughter on Gaza.

Throughout the world, the olive is a symbol of peace, but in Palestine it is also a symbol of people’s ties to the land. The no-go zone east of Beit Hanoun is constantly expanding. Every year or two the Israeli bulldozers come and destroy even more land. Mohamed’s house is now on the edge of the no-go zone. Maybe next year his house will be destroyed, the olive trees which we are picking from will be uprooted. Yet maybe his house will be spared, after all, if it is destroyed where will the soldiers sleep when they invade Gaza?

Gaza prepares heroes welcome for Palestinian freedom fighters


GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Palestinian groups are planning celebrations to mark Israel's imminent release of hundreds of prisoner "heroes" in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israeli President Shimon Peres received late Saturday the files of Palestinians prisoners to be pardoned as part of the deal for Shalit's release, his office said.

On Tuesday, 477 Palestinian prisoners, including 27 women, are expected to be freed in the first stage of a deal for the return of Sergeant Shalit, who has been held for more than five years by Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Gaza's Hamas rulers plan to release Shalit, captured in a cross-border raid in 2006, with the understanding that another 550 Palestinian prisoners will walk free within two months.

A spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees told a news conference in Gaza that "all organisations have agreed to begin preparations for the reception of the prisoners, to receive them like heroes with official and popular celebrations."

The armed Palestinian group says it is holding the Israeli soldier.

"The organisations expressed their pride in this agreement that Hamas reached with Israel, with the mediation of Egypt, and applauded the heroes who kidnapped Gilad Shalit," the spokesman added, reading a statement.

"They said they would continue to make every effort to free every prisoner held in Israel jails." more

List of first batch of Palestinian prisoners to be released has been published


The list released by the Israeli Prison Service is on an Excel spreadsheet here
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel on Sunday published the official list of 477 Palestinian prisoners to be released on Tuesday in the first stage of a deal for the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit.

The list of 450 Palestinian men and 27 women was published by the justice ministry on the website of the Israel Prisons Service, to give the public 48 hours to lodge any legal appeals against the deal which will see the return of Shalit, who has spent more than five years in captivity.

Another 550 Palestinian prisoners are to be released within two months.

As soon as the list was published, Israel's main radio and television stations began running through the long list of deadly attacks the prisoners named on the list were convicted of.

Among the names mentioned were prisoners who were found guilty of taking part in the 2001 bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub which killed 21 people, and the so-called Passover bombing of a hotel in the coastal town of Netanya in 2002, which killed 29 people, both of which were claimed by Hamas's armed wing.

"Pursuant to the government of Israel's decision from October 11, 2011, to approve the proceedings of the agreement for the liberation of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas, prisoners will be released as detailed in the following list," said the document which details exactly where each prisoner is to be sent.

Last week, several websites affiliated with the Islamist Hamas movement and the Popular Resistance Committees, both of which were involved in capturing Shalit, published lists purportedly naming Palestinians to be freed, but Sunday's list was the first official one released. more

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Prisoner exchange expected to take place on 18 October if Israel sticks to agreement


OCCUPIED JERUSALEM , (PIC)-- An Israeli official from the office of Benyamin Netanyahu said on Friday that 450 Palestinian captives will be released next Tuesday and Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will be released at the same time “if the agreement between the Israeli government and Hamas is respected.”

AFP quoted the official who preferred to remain anonymous that he hopes the time table in the agreement is respected and that Shalit returns to “his home” on Thursday.

Israeli radio also reported that the PM’s representative David Meidan will travel on Saturday to Cairo to agree the final details of the exchange process through Egyptian officials. more

Rising wave of racist attacks against Arabs blamed on Israeli government


By Jillian Kestler-D'Amours (Electronic Intifada)

Palestinian community leaders have blamed a refusal by the Israeli government to condemn increased incitement to racial hatred for a recent surge in extremist violence by settlers and other Zionists.

“The problem here is the way the Israeli government is dealing with all the brutal acts of the settlers in the West Bank and now inside the Green Line [Israel as it is recognized internationally]. The Israeli government is doing nothing in order to stop these racist people, and this fact gives this bunch of racists a green light to do anything they want,” said Sami Abu Shehadeh, a Jaffa resident and member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipal council.

“We are really worried. Now these people are attacking holy places; tomorrow they could also hurt people,” explained Abu Shehadeh, during a demonstration on 8 October against the recent desecration of Muslim and Christian cemeteries in Jaffa by suspected Jewish-Israeli extremists.

On the eve of Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday of repentance, suspected Israeli extremists spray-painted “Death to Arabs” and “Price Tag” on headstones in the two Jaffa cemeteries.

“We are having terrorist groups of Jews going inside the Green Line and in the West Bank,” Abu Shehadeh added, “and nobody is doing anything [about it], and they are really dangerous people.”

Wave of racist attacks throughout Israel

On 9 October, the words “Maccabi Haifa [a soccer club] doesn’t want Arabs on the team,” “Death to Arabs,” and “Rabbi Kahane was right” — referring to Meir Kahane, the leader of the ultra right-wing, banned Kach party, who advocated the forcible deportation of all Palestinians — were also found spray-painted on structures in the city of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv.

These attacks came less than a week after a mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangariya, in the Galilee region of northern Israel, was set on fire. The inner walls of the mosque, holy books, and carpets were severely damaged in the attack. more

UN slams Israeli settlement plan to build further 2,600 housing units in East Jerusalem


UNITED NATIONS (Ma'an) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized Israel on Friday over reports that it plans to build 2,600 more housing units in East Jerusalem, saying further settlement activity was "unacceptable."

"The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at continued efforts to advance planning for new Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem," Ban's press office said in a statement.

"Recent developments in this regard have been unacceptable, particularly as efforts are ongoing to resume (Israeli-Palestinian) negotiations, and run contrary to the Quartet's call on the parties to refrain from provocations," it said. more

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (6– 12 Oct 2011)


(Israeli settlers from "Yish Kodesh" settlement, escorted by Israeli troops, uproot olive trees in Qasra village, northeast of Nablus – 06 October 2011)

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

A Palestinian civilian died of wounds he had sustained in the Gaza Strip in 2003.

A Palestinian civilian was wounded and arrested by IOF in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron.

IOF have continued to fire at Palestinian fishermen and farmers in the Gaza Strip.

IOF continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
A Palestinian woman and a British human rights defender were wounded.

IOF conducted 38 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and two limited ones into the Gaza Strip.
IOF arrested 28 Palestinians, including 11 children.

Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

IOF demolished a mosque in Khirbat Yarza village, east of Tubas.
IOF demolished two under-construction houses in Bethlehem and Hebron.
IOF demolished two houses and two animal barracks near Qalqilya.
IOF razed a 12-dunum[1] area of agricultural land and confiscated 250 olive and almond trees.
Israeli settlers uprooted 210 trees in Qasra village near Nablus.
Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers while cropping olives.

more